NEW YORK — The Islanders looked like a different team on Sunday night than they did on the prior night in New Jersey.
Despite a slow start to the game, the Islanders scored six goals, including three in the second period and two in the third, to oust the New Jersey Devils 6-4 in Brooklyn. Ryan Strome scored a pair of goals in the win, his first multi-goal game since February 16, 2015, and four other Islanders found the back of the net as well.
JF Berube made 26 saves in the win over New Jersey.
“I thought we played a pretty hard game,” Strome said. “We were tough to play against. We got to the front of the net, last night (Cory Schneider) saw too many shots easily. We didn’t get enough bodies there and playoff mentality. Tonight we did and it paid off. I thought we were a pretty gritty team to play against.”
While the Islanders shot total wasn’t in the 40s like on Saturday, they did pepper New Jersey starter Keith Kinkaid with 28 shots through the first 40 minutes. The Islanders presence in front of the net also kept the Devils on their toes and was bothersome enough for several scrums to breakout after whistles.
Despite putting 42 shots on New Jersey the previous night, the Islanders best effort only appeared late in the third period. On Sunday, the Islanders were able to shake off another slow start and play solid game.
“We got into those gritty areas,” Casey Cizikas said. “We didn’t back down and we played tough all night.”
In a similar start to Saturday night, the Devils took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. The goal came as the end result of some good passing by Taylor Hall, who sent the puck off Miles Wood’s stick for the deflection goal while New Jersey was on the power play.
It was the seventh straight game the Islanders have allowed their opponent to score the first goal of the game and their fourth straight game surrendering a power play goal.
The Islanders were able to the knot the game back up before the end of the first. After JF Berube made a big stop on Severson, the Islanders took the puck the other way and made something of it.
Alan Quine had a shot from the point blocked by a New Jersey player, but Ryan Strome pounced on the loose puck to score his 10th goal of the year.
The Islanders grabbed the lead with a quick goal 2:44 into the second period. Casey Cizikas was able to sneak the puck through Kinkaid’s legs on a wraparound attempt to give the Islanders the 2-1 advantage.
Ryan Strome scored his second goal of the game at 9:32, after picking off the puck in the Devils end and then snapping a wrister past Kinkaid. The Islanders took a 4-1 lead over their tri-state area rivals after Ladd beat Kinkaid glove side for a shorthanded goal at 11:59. The goal was Ladd’s 16th goal of the season and his 14th in the last 30 games.
The Devils managed to respond quickly to the goal. Kyle Palmieri scored at 13:21 to bring the Devils back to within two and Josepgh Blandisi scored with 2:05 left in the period cut the Islanders lead to 4-3.
However, a roughing call on Andy Greene in the last minute of the second put the Islanders on the power play to open the third.
New York took full advantage of it by scoring 26 seconds into the third period while still on the man-advantage. Anders Lee sent a spinning pass to Strome, who found John Tavares in the faceoff circle for the goal.
The Islanders scored again 34 seconds later after Jason Chimera blocked a Devils shot at the point and then raced the other way with the puck. The Islanders forward fired a shot past Kinkaid’s stick side to give the Islanders back the three-goal lead.
The Devils scored one final goal before the night ended at 8:37 off the stick of Taylor Hall.
“This was more of a last team to score kind of thing and we had some big plays at the right times from guys,” Islanders interim head coach Doug Weight said. “It was physical. It was hard hockey. There will be ice bags after that long weekend, I’m sure they feel the same way, but coming out of yesterday it’s a big win. I’ll watch it and I’m sure they’re just as disappointed in certain areas as we are.
“It wasn’t a terrible game. It was a good, physical hockey game.”
Sunday’s win was a big one for the Islanders, who pulled even with the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers with 64 points in the standings. While that can change since the Bruins were still in action with San Jose at the time of publishing, the fact that the Islanders can control a bit of their own destiny is big in its own right.
That also puts even more emphasis on the team’s upcoming road trip starting next week.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work to get back to where we’re at,” Ladd said. “But we’re still fighting for our lives. It keeps going on and you have to keep finding ways to win, and keep that consistency.”